Council rejects our planning transparency proposal

March 30, 2021 2:00 PM

Gate at Warrington Council BldgThe Labour Council has turned down a proposal by the Liberal Democrats to improve the transparency of the planning process and help restore public trust. The proposal was put forward in a motion to Monday's full Council.

wp-content/uploads/imarks.jpgCllr Ian Marks said: It is the democratic right of a councillor to ask for a planning application to be brought before the planning committee for consideration providing there are good reasons. Usually planning decisions can be made by officers under delegated powers because they are not controversial. If there are neighbour objections or an upset householder, then it should go to Committee so that the case, for or against, can be put to elected councillors.

Last July a resident submitted a planning application for a side extension. It looked fine to me and the Parish Council and there were no neighbour objections. Six months later the architect told me it was being recommended for refusal. I asked for it to go to Warrington's planning committee but was told this was impossible because it was more than 21 days since the application was lodged last summer. The six months delay was caused by the inability of the planning department to cope with applications on a proper timescale. It is quite unacceptable that departmental failings should overrule a councillor's democratic rights.

Our motion asked for the Council's Constitution to be reviewed to introduce an element of flexibility in such circumstances. We were extremely disappointed in the feeble arguments put forward by Labour politicians as to why they couldn't do this.

RyanBCllr Ryan Bate who seconded the Motion added: We need a fairer more flexible system. More care must be taken about communicating the rules to residents when they become involved in the planning process. When a letter arrives with details about an application that may affect them, nowhere does it say they need to contact a councillor within 21 days. They need time for this and it is not immediately apparent they may need call on a councillor for help. We must improve transparency and restore public trust.